Chiropractic care is a patient-centred, non-invasive, hands-on, regulated health care profession focused on your spine, muscles,  joints and nervous system.

Chiropractors use the best available evidence and clinical expertise to diagnose issues that affect your body’s movement. They treat them without medication or surgery and prevent them from returning. Chiropractic care can also promote health and improve your quality of life, as well as alleviate pain.

Chiropractor with patient

What is a Chiropractor?

Doctors of chiropractic, called ‘chiropractors’ are spine, muscle, joint and related nervous system experts. Every chiropractor receives at least seven years of post-secondary academic and clinical education. They are trained in how to evaluate, diagnose, recommend and deliver a treatment plan that manages issues within these systems, according to your preferences. A chiropractor’s education also includes courses in radiology, pain management, prescribed exercise and rehabilitation, among others.

Some chiropractors also pursue additional academic and practical education to specialize in other areas. These areas of specialization include clinical sciences and diagnostic imaging, pediatric, rehabilitation, spinal stenosis, sports sciences and animal chiropractic care.

Every chiropractor is uniquely qualified to evaluate your condition and identify what’s causing your pain.

Based on the best available evidence, combined with their clinical expertise, your chiropractor will then work with you to determine the best treatment to relieve your pain. They will also help prevent it from returning and restore your mobility.

Some of the conditions chiropractors treat include:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Strains
  • Sprains
  • Pain associated with arthritis
  • Work and sports injuries

To learn what chiropractic care may be able to do for you, check/download this PDF pamphlet How a Chiropractor Can Help You.’ You can also check our Chiropractors Helping Patients blog to learn about Ontario chiropractors and how they are helping patients address specific challenges or ways to live their best life. And it’s worth noting that in Ontario, you can visit a chiropractor without a referral from a doctor or other health care professional.

But you don’t have to be in persistent or long-term pain to visit a chiropractor. Many people – from pregnant women to athletes – visit chiropractors to alleviate sporadic pain, reduce their risk of injuries or to improve their flexibility, mobility and posture.

Chiropractic Treatments

After a first appointment to assess your condition, your chiropractor will use their clinical expertise and the best available evidence to make a diagnosis and recommend treatment options for you.

Chiropractic care is the primary method of treatment for many medical conditions, such as low back pain. For other conditions, such as pain associated with arthritis, diabetes or osteoporosis, chiropractors and other health professionals recommend an interprofessional approach. So in these situations, your chiropractor will coordinate with other health care professionals in your circle of care to support your overall treatment. Working with this team, they will provide chiropractic care to relieve your spine, muscle or joint pain.

Chiropractors use various treatments, depending on their patient’s specific needs and preferences. Common treatments include:

  • Manual, ‘hands-on’ therapy
  • Soft tissue therapy
  • Electronic modalities, such as therapeutic ultrasound and cold laser therapy
  • Customized, therapeutic exercise programs
  • Self-management tools and techniques (like positions for relief or coping strategies for pain)
  • Advice and education
Male chiropractor checking patient's neck to deliver chiropractic care

Manual Manipulation

One of the most frequent treatments a chiropractor uses is manual manipulation of the vertebrae of your spine or other joints, which is called an ‘adjustment.’ To perform an adjustment, your chiropractor will use their hands to apply controlled force to your joint and guide it through a range of motion. This action restores your joint’s natural movement and improves its function.

When applied to your spine, this treatment is called spinal manipulation therapy (SMT). Manipulation is also used on other joints, such as those in your wrist, ankle or foot, as an effective treatment.

How Chiropractic Care Works

Watch this animated video, created by the OCA and University of Guelph to learn about the science, value, and benefits of chiropractic care. Narrated by Dr. John Srbely, PhD, DC, it provides a comprehensive, easy-to-understand, and accessible way to learn about the evidence-based benefits of chiropractic care. For more information on this work, and the evidence that supports it, visit our Evidence-Based Chiropractic Care web page.

Collaborative Care in Varied Settings

Chiropractors work collaboratively as part of your circle of care team. You’ll find them in private practice clinics, interprofessional clinics, family health teams, hospitals, patients’ homes or even as onsite support for employees at large corporations. Whether they work in the same office or not, chiropractors collaborate with other health care professionals to help manage your condition. These other health care professionals include physicians, nurse practitioners, physiotherapists, registered massage therapists, midwives and other specialists.

Chiropractors are also active members of the broader health care community. A number of chiropractors are professors, researchers, hospital board members, part of a sports organization’s health team. Some chiropractors are also involved in projects led by institutions, from the Ontario government and the municipal Region of Waterloo to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Infographic: As of 2019, 26% of Ontarians received treatment or serviced from a chiropractor, this upward trend is apparent across Ontario regions and age, gender, education and income groups. 9.9 average number visits in the last 12 months

Chiropractic Care in Ontario, Canada
and the U.S.

Chiropractic is a regulated health profession, recognized by statute in all Canadian provinces and American states.

Almost 2.7 million patients in Ontario rely on chiropractic care every year to help them live healthy, active lives.¹

An Environics Research Group study we commissioned on ‘Attitudes of Ontarians Toward Chiropractors’ found that 26 per cent of Ontarians received treatment or services from a chiropractor in the 12 months between May 2018 to May, 2019.

  1. In 2019, there were 14,545,000 Ontarians (source Statistics Canada). The OCA-commissioned Environics Research Group cites a 26% chiropractor utilization rate for the adult population in 2019. According to Statistics Canada, there were 4,195,970 children in Ontario in 2019, setting the total adult population at 10,349,030.  Therefore, according to these figures,  2,688,478 (approximately 2.7 million) Ontarians visited chiropractors in 2019.